Saudi Arabia jails several officials convicted of corruption

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Saudi Arabia has sentenced several officials to varying jail terms in a spate of graft cases, a state watchdog said, as part of an anti-corruption drive backed by the oil-rich monarchy’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The verdicts were recently issued by a court in the Saudi capital Riyadh in cases involving financial and administrative corruption, the Saudi state news agency SPA reported late Tuesday, citing the country’s anti-corruption authority, Nazaha.

The defendants included a provincial governor, who was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 25,000 Saudi riyals (6,666 dollars) after convicted on bribery and embezzlement charges.

A director of a municipal expropriation department was convicted of bribery, forgery and money laundering. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison and ordered to pay an unspecified fine, SPA reported.

The same court convicted a judge of bribery, misuse of administrative power and sentenced him to 10 years in prison along with paying a fine of 300,000 riyals.

Another convict was a civil defence officer with the rank of a colonel who was given 10 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 60,000 riyals after found guilty of bribery, abuse of power, public money embezzlement and involvement in money laundering.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia said it launched a crackdown on corruption, as the kingdom’s heir apparent seeks to diversify the country’s economy and make it less dependent on oil.

Earlier this week, authorities in Saudi Arabia said they had arrested 207 people, including employees at key ministries, on corruption and fraud charges.

Those detained are citizens and foreign residents, and include employees at several ministries such as defence, interior, health, justice and environment.

They were arrested due to their involvement in bribery, fraud and abuse of their position’s authority, according to the anti-corruption agency.

Crown Prince Mohammed was seen as spearheading what Riyadh described as an anti-corruption drive in 2017-18, when dozens of high-profile royals and former state officials were detained for three months.

Many reached financial settlements with the authorities, which the kingdom said were worth more than 100 billion dollars.

Since then, courts have also convicted many public employees and sentenced them to jail for corruption and bribery.

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